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Egypt



FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 1 January 1866.


CURRENCY

1899, French.
1921, Egyptian.



Formerly Bechuanaland Protectorate, achieved independence on 30 September 1966 as a republic.


British Bechuanaland


FIRST STAMPS ISSUED December 1885.


CURRENCY

British.



A former province of the Ottoman Empire which became quasi-independent after the Napoleonic invasion (1798-1801) when Mehmet Ali of Kavalla established a dynasty of governors. His successors were granted the title of Khedive in 1867. From the Battle of the Nile (1798), British interest in guarding the route to India, improving imperial communications and suppressing the slave trade ensured continuing interference in Egyptian affairs. British troops occupied the country in 1882 to prevent the threat of the nationalist Jehad (holy war) spreading to the Suez Canal; a British resident and consul-general advised the Khedive. On 18 December 1914 (Turkey, to whom Egypt theoretically owed allegiance, being an enemy) Egypt was declared a British protectorate and the dynasty assumed the title of sultan. In 1922 Egypt became an independent kingdom, but a British presence was maintained until 1954. In 1952 a military coup d'etat forced first the abdication of King Farouk and then of his infant son. A republic was proclaimed on 18 June 1953. The seizure (nationalization) of the Suez Canal in 1956 occasioned a disastrous Anglo-French attempt at reoccupation by force. Egypt federated with Syria on 1 February 1958 as the United Arab Republic; Syria left the Union on 28 September 1961, though Egypt clung to the name for another ten years. A similar attempt at federation with Libya did not make progress. Recent history has been of intermittent war against Israel with consequent de facto changes of boundary between the two followed by reconciliation.


Postal History
Government postal carriers date back far into the Islamic middle ages, and regular pigeon posts are said to have been started by Sultan Nureddin in 1146. In the early 19th century the need for external posts was felt only by foreign residents such as Greek merchants. Private posts to Europe (Posta Europea) were maintained by an Italian company, first organized in 1821 (handstamps). In 1857 this received government sanction to operate inland posts (already begun by local enterprise in Lower Egypt in 1843) until the concession was bought by the government in 1865. This explains why the first government cancellers are inscribed in Italian (POSTE VICEREALIEGIZIANE).


In 1835 Alexandria became the HQ of the 'Overland Route', Lieut. Waghorn's pioneer enterprise to speed the mails between Britain and India. The significance of Egypt to the British Empire was thus extended from the strategy of defence to the day-today business of communication.


Egyptian stamps with values in paras were used in Northern Sudan, in Eritrea (Massawa) in 1869-85, on the Somali coast (Berbera and Zaila) in 1881-4, and in Ethiopia (Harar) in 1881-4.


Stamps bear inscriptions with EGYPT/EGYPTE in English or French; or Arabic; or Italian, POSTE KHEDIVIE EGIZIANE. Stamps used 1 March 1958 - 1 September 1972 bear the inscription UAR (see also Syria).


British POs

Opened at consulates in Egypt in 1839 (Alexandria), 1847 (Suez) and 1859 (Cairo) to deal with mail carried by British mailboats. In 1860-79 stamps of Britain were used at Alexandria (oblit. B 01) and Suez (oblit. B 02).


French POs in Egypt


FIRST STAMPS French 1857 - 99.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 1899.



Alesandria

PO Opened 1830; closed 31 March 1931. Used stamps of France 1857-76 (numbered oblit. 3704 or 5080).


Port Said

PO opened June 1867; closed 31 March 1931. Used stamps of France 1867 - 99 (numbered obilt. 5129).


A joint issue of 'Postage Due' stamps was used at both offices in 1928- 30.


Italian PO at Alexandria

In 1863-84 used an oblit. numbered 234 in an oblong of dots.


There were also Austrian, Russian and Greek POs in Alexandria.


Suez Canal Company

A concession was granted in 1854, work started in 1859, and the Canal opened on 17 November 1869. The company transported mail free between Port Said and Suez in 1859-67. Between 18 July and 16 August 1868, a charge was made and special stamps were used. The Egyptian government then took over the service, and the charge was incorporated by treaty into the overall postage.


British forces in Egypt (1932-41)

Concessional rates applied to letters home from service British troops. First 'seals' issued 1 November 1932, were followed in 1936 by stamps inscribed ARMY POST until April 1943 (these were used also in 1940 by some personnel in the Sudan).



Egypt and Sudan pre 1900
Click map for larger view


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